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tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  August 25, 2014 6:00am-6:50am EDT

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>> thank you for coming tonight. it is up pleasure i see friends in the audience.
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even members of my riding durbin of -- an amazing author the lives year in and to is and she year? we are friends on the facebook. there is a memoir called a no-man's war that came almost at the same time and hers is a memoir of all the deployments as a soldier officer deployed many, many times so i'm here you are here also. this is my first chance to do a reading and i am excited. i have done a couple talks but this is my inaugural reading. i want to read a couple different packages provide of a paragraph about each of the three main characters.
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it is new material i have not read from before. banana wanted to read about time afghanistan and iraq. then i do questions. the first veteran i would read about this michelle fisher that is the main character of this book i met her 2010 she told me a lot about herself introduce me to the other two people that we began an amazing multi-year process of lengthy interviews and they gave me other material to rely on. letters, diaries, photographs , medical records and military records and therapy notes and facebook posts and all kinds of things like that. this is an attempt to
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reconstruct the last decade of their lives as they served in the national guard. the three women are different engage for perspective and they don't agree about the essentials enterprise the of many conversations sell michelle the youngest of the three was 18 and enlisted spring 2001. i would read a passage from the previous fall i thought -- she just voted for ralph nader very left leaning and i will switch to reading glasses. excuse me.
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in the fall of 2000 michelle had enrolled in the university of southern indiana on another portrait -- another part of the expressway to the national guard armory and been assured visited a couple of times because that is where her junior and senior prom or during high school. sheikh had the maximum allowed to force to the law says she paid her tuition bill herself. as she began her career sure sharing an apartment with her mother working of the golden corral and driving back and forth into glasses and a tank. that is what she named her silver ford tempo. as a gift from her father.
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she loved him dearly but he never stuck with his wives nor has safeguarded the economic well-being of his children. he bought the car used at $2,000 and gave it to her in new of paying $40,000 in child support he gates -- she owed to her mother. her mother had this in existence with a welfare check coming year regular jobs, here regular packs of cigarettes and double cola. and then made her a letter signed a letter she would not suit him then he handed the keys. she writes a joke she drove a $40,000 peter. encapsulate everything about her childhood was she was given, what her parents had failed to provide and the spark that let her laugh about it especially the parts that were not really funny.
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surely after that you see her in the spring realize commune ecologists is not challenge hearst's she is bored she parties and forgets to go to class and decides she really needs to do something about this and wants to go to a better university that she cannot afford to go to the recruiter's office and she was to sign up for the national guard because they had explained she to get a free ride if she signed up. so that was her motivation for her in listing. when 9/11 have been she was in training she is a lee understood her life would be completely different than what she had envisioned and right from the beginning
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beginning, and it was opposed to both horsey and they're two women have different positions the michelle from the very outset does the support the war in afghanistan or the one in iraq to come later. when she displays that have been since 2004 she finds herself sharing a tent with the of a woman who was specifically warned to stay away from brooks as this woman is trouble according to her supervisor. since michelle does not want to be in afghanistan she is drawn to this troublemaker in her tent. so they're being a little rebellious may be more than the other women in their tents.
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they ponder over this. brooks had previously avoided michelle because she thought as a college student she thought too good for brooks. so they had not previously spent a lot of time together brooks did not make it through high school dropout and 161st child 17 and is ferociously smart a colicky baby and reading books while rocking him to sleep she was reading "gone with the wind" and other things than she did take the ged and scored in the top 10 percent in her state that year. smart enough to go to college but had not figured out. so this is hello passage
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about desma brooks to give you a sense of her personality. simon chin to desma brooks does marry and have to wear children and she and her husband are not getting along the. >> after her divorce was final she got a new job waiting tables at a truck stop it served food and fuel to the traffic along interstate 64. modern day river of rated was nearby ohio from east to west across southern indiana. right where the interstate crossed highway 231 and it is a long as north through south through to the indiana. she dropped her cousins off -- for children of better cousins' house. she learned how to carry a big trade. steel haulers would kill time as they waited for their raids to be loaded.
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other drivers a lunch while their rigs were loaded with aluminum at the smelting facility. desma brooks also got to know the truckers who worked for heartland express that specialized in medium haul and she knew the driver's by their cb handles. blue collar can he carried steel and both me and and scatterbrain and allied did repo work. they appreciated the waitress with the saucy manner and you can walk him looking pretty rough and he would not face desma. delivering brand new rigs all over indiana and iowa and pennsylvania and ohio he sat down and desma tables with jokes the cutter year as a sky god darker.
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in and there was a bracelet on her arrest that said what would jesus do? to meet -- jimmy assumed she was churchgoing in patients stop telling troops -- jokes. what? was says the tiger? the other truckers laughed. that is desma in the net show. also in afghanistan michelle finds herself working alongside a nobleman named debbie hilton who is 30 years her senior. she will become a grandmother during deployment. in her early 50s well in afghanistan, the longest serving women in the national guard unit and was happy to integrate women and
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always wanted to serve in the military and when she learned to she would not go to afghanistan deployment comitia ultimately went but was told she could not go up first she was devastated. she always wanted to serve her country overseas an awful hard -- and believed in the war in afghanistan. she did not have the internal conflict if it was a good war or not. and she really wanted to be with her unit. so that core battalion to be deployed was devastating so she talked her way in to join the unit when they were part way through their training and they got to go to afghanistan. next to leave this part i
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did read and that may re-read peats for those who also heard it but it is the funniest moments in this chapter about debbie and i give you a sense of sushi is. it is the spring of 1988 at this particular moment in time, early in debbie's time in 113 support battalion. she walks in and is just one handful of women in the otherwise of male environment, male-dominated culture and her response is she loves it. ones she walked into a late night game of cards were budget guys were discussing the merits and never suddenly confronted by individual bearing tits herself and we're into confusion. she said she considered a certain man to be especially well hong. they look like they were
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about to drop their teeth. she did not have trouble discerning which men would prove excepting some of them did not want females some only wanted to talk to her for one reason others made a point to come up to shake her hand. welcome aboard one of the men told her you will do just fine. don't worry about being a female. so she adopts theirs language and stars to call herself a female that i guess is short for female soldier. and she is fine with that and fits in seamlessly and describes herself as a daddy's girl and wanted to join the regular army but was turned away so to join the national guard was a huge accomplishment.
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the east three different women us who they had voted for desma brooks voted for word george bush and debbie never votes begin she thinks politicians are no good. deployed together. once they're in afghanistan the differences between them don't seem as important any more in what is important is the question of their personalities and how do they get along and to how will they use their time and how will they interact with each other? and debbie takes michelle under her wing she is very maternal but she is especially trying to affirm the show. they work for an ex-marine
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and he is super frustrated with michelle who will stop talking about how the war is about idea and to use yet the one point to make a bet if they can turn this woman into a good soldier and michelle is bound and determined that will never happen and debbie tries to show her this is not the easiest way to go. [laughter] there they are. in afghanistan. the armament team michelle and debbie are both on the armor mitt team as weapons mechanics. it runs out of american weapons to fix. they are in a support battalion doing maintenance
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work supporting infantry soldiers and those weapons are not breaking often enough so they don't have the death to do and then exit marines superior comes up with the ada to work on this project to the united nations has facilitated a collection of old broken an ak-47 and that will be repurchased to give out two army soldiers. so they could save the rb money to help the process of building a viable army to defend the democracy in the west soldiers could lead in the near future is what they were thinking. i want to read about these weapons.
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there is a huge contrast between machel's idea what it means to be an devi's idea but i will get to that after this passage. >> michelle and debbie worked out a system to document the stream of ak-47s passing through their hands. they were conned 20,000 over the course of the year. >> miller drummed into the soldiers they needed to account for every single ak-47 but there were hard to identify. michelle and deby took over the past due for a look at the eroded serial numbers to record the identity of each gun they repaired. if the team got a difficult box they concentrated on disassembling and reassembling the broken weapons than they documented them after repairs were completed. if the box was easier than patrick focused on repairing while debbie and michelle
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blowdown every symbol they could find. overtime they were fluent in the language and came to know which countries had made more reliable version san which had made versions that were more likely to be broken. the chinese models were the worst and they dissembled large numbers of others held up astonishingly well over time. some for manufactured in the '50s those weapons last forever she would say later typically the mechanics would be missing the sites and also check the firing pin it would strike the of bullets at the trigger did not feel right they would replace the entire mechanism. often the safety was not working. frequently the springs were bad and many times michelle had springs pop-up to hit her in the face and she got fingers caught in the done but they were not hard to
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fix. that is the duty of the ak-47 it is a simple machine. we just got better as the year went on. so this is kind of a nightmare p.j. she worries every does and she works on. willis say that a soldier's hands? does it go to someone else? if they're hurt somebody with the thoughts that goes through her mind. end with this woman who had befriended her to help her get through every day that is so cool to get to work from soviet weapons and never thought i could do this.
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so the deployment to afghanistan you see in the book how each of the women's struggles to figure out how to gets through that year away from home and the strain of puts on them and their partners that hall and on desma children in her case. debbie worries about her daughter who was just married and does get pregnant while she is away and has the baby before she makes it home. so she gets the news issues pregnant in afghanistan bank gets the news the baby is born and still in afghanistan. when they come back, they have several years back home in indiana and you get to see them supporting each other through the return home. it is bomb before each of
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them. but later they will come to appreciate the first appointment was relatively easy compared to other disappointments like the second which was much harder. the second deployment happens in 2008. two years go by from the time they go home until they get orders that of moment when they're deployed to iraq michelle has just decided, she did not reenlist so she just laughed the national guard and mrs. the deployment by two weeks. so for two weeks she is incredibly relieved and happy to leave the guard just knowing it did not suit her well and she'd never wanted to do a second to deployment but as soon as the rest of the battalion gets their orders sheathings
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how can i stay at home when debbie and desma 1/2 to deploy? i should be going. there is something wrong with this then she feels guilty she does not go on the second appointment and wishes she could spare her friends the experience. i will close by reading just a little bit of the work that desma does in a rack because it is remarkable to watch the evolution and the kind of work that she does. desma is an automated logistics' specialists headed is the military software that they will use to track maintenance on night-vision and goggles so she can order parts and track where they are and
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which unit has them. desma is of is that anything technical she can fix radios , order things but in iraq she is not doing a desk job any more. they needed people to drive trucks so instead in a relatively safe desk job like afghanistan while they were preparing weapons veto was looking at mainland's but in the second deployment she will be doing convoy's security she had transferred internal mail unit with a handful of women in the
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ratio is like out of 100 individuals there are three women roughly and she is transfers into a field artillery regiment that she cannot belong to except they don't act in the field artillery capacity it is a port capacity and it is the second previously all mail you the issue will transfer into. the first was so high style she requested to leave. this one she makes lifelong friends and becomes close friend with josh some breakthrough goes by the nickname stony. >> talking on the radio for missions that could last 16 hours they dropped into the habit as referring to their
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nicknames fountain the iraqi desert. i will also refer to charity. her andy desma the only other women to transfer in the unit are in the same truck. charity became mama. stony became pop-up. they called it desma a hooker as a term of endearment. the names became the they were. in kuwait they were desma and charity now mama and hooker there is no way someone out front in the late -- lead position angry beaver would be on the radio commanding the trucks and stoney was an deterrences job was to catch and the anomaly in the others did not see or shoot 20 thought had to be shot or presented visual threats.
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the second vehicle was the assistant scout truck it meant backing stony up for it a-bombs he failed to notice or fire if there was an ambush. the to scout trucks ran ahead of the rest of the convoy a looking for mounds of trash or dead animals anything with the possibility of death. they typically rhode in the convoy is third vehicle as the navigation team. desma drove while charity set beside her on the radio the gun turret was usually a guy called peaches in the terror it. the navigation team followed at a slight distance but maintained communication at all times even if they could no longer see them. i will just skip forward a little better.
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>> stony and a angry beaver were out front as out front at this the part of the mountain surrounded by flowing hills and then a few minutes later to see a big cloud of dust. they felt the vibration first and they heard the explosion. desma could not move for reason. and then two years donees voice alive and passed off. nista me motherfucker. as jurgen disposal was out
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to meet them it made a huge white flash when this detonated. the rest of the trip was quiet men of the usual chatter. >> i think there will stop treating and take questions and a switch class's -- glasses antecedes that would be most interesting to talk about from your point of view. please wait for the microphone. >> how did you find these women in the first place? there is a quantum leap with the process.
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with the women to follow them? >> as we were starting the project i just began wanting to know and i interviewed two dozen individuals. i did not look for this story i did not new wanted to write about women. i remember going to new york to describe this story to my editor there and also telling him about a man that was a sniper and of iraq and had come home from that experience and had a transformation.
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and i found his journey interesting also. and debating which way to go and my editor wisely set i have not read a book about women like this so i think it sounds unusual wear he had edited some other books about iraq and afghanistan and so the other story sounds all will more familiar. but i met the young woman michelle first living in denver of three women serve out of indiana with the indiana national guard but she had moved to denver after leaving the guard and finishing college. and our first meeting she is an amazing story teller and
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remember all kinds of little details that not everybody would recall. she told me about journals and it seemed like there was a lot there also this friend of hers a single mom with three kids and another woman that was a grandmother i thought that was fascinating three women with a different stages of life. that were deployed together. so then i met desma next she was coming through and she was stopping through to see michelle and michelle introduced us. desma many onetime then came back to colorado with her military file, the virginia, all medical records and their peanuts and handed everything over and said here is your story.
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[laughter] i was really taken aback i could not make sense out of the military record she had to explain to me all the terms. that is in character for desma she makes a snap judgment right away either such you want to spend time with her or not do she likes you she is incredibly generous. she thinks 10 steps ahead of everybody all the time. she already saw i would need it so why not give it to me right away? >> how did you find the first person? >> i did start off that this the a in denver. they were nice and wonderful and would not introduce me to one single veteran because of course, there job
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is to protect them not feel that the mound for interviews. i made some friends but that's not how. michelle was working with a woman who was taking a writing class and i was taking the same class. so we met i explained i was interviewing veterans and she said i know some people you should interview and michelle was on the list. they were colleagues working together. >> did you travel to these countries? >> i did not. i thought about it a lot. i got all the paperwork i would need to go to afghanistan.
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we were already out of iraq when i started to look at traveling. and it was not necessarily going to be a great idea to go there. afghanistan was possible but the situation was deteriorating. i am a mom and my son is here. i chose not to go. it was hard for me to make that decision because previously i have always blind but i thought i should not. so i didn't. but i did read a lot. there is all whole list of books in the acknowledgements like see forever war that is an amazing book about afghanistan. yellow birds is a novel about iraq written by
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somebody who was there who had deployed there and come back. and i read you know, when the men are gone. and cheese book was not out yet but i would have read no man's war back then. then a lot of books about the to war is like the narrative of the war's themselves the good soldiers is unbelievable book about infantry soldiers in iraq by a guy who writes in the "washington post" and spent eight months in iraq reporting the of book and it is unbelievable. i was relying on photographs and newspaper stories
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piety's women took than they're own diaries and marist's - - marathon interview sessions. >> either any connections between your first book and "soldier girls"? you're not necessarily looking for female veterans? maybe there is a connection but maybe there isn't. >> i found out these were the of veterans that opened up the most in wanted to talk to me. look for people who wanted to open up by may have been easier report with women when i am interviewing. i don't know. the man -- and then i interfered i don't think al is the right person for them
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to talk to. my sense is they would not share their story with me in a way that is the full story to make them saul's vulnerable. i think they felt like i had to have a stiff upper lip and never talk about things that were difficult or hard. it did not feel that it would be of good use of any betty's time. -- and a buddy's time. those books to have multiple female characters in the end i do like the way the female friendships are central to both books. but this book more than anything is the relationships between these three women and how there french ships survive other
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relationships that come and go because they cannot sustain romantic relationships through the deployments and having multiple characters and light because it is different vantage points on the subject and i don't think there is one truce's little think they have the right perspective and looking at the different points of view is fascinating. they learn a lot from each other. >> i gave in this in a
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manuscript form. they shared even more than i expected them to share about their personal life. they had given me letters that were intimate intimate, diaries, first of all, i wanted to be sure that all the material was going in the up book and they were comfortable with. [laughter] last but also i am a civilian and i was not in iraq or afghanistan. i really needed them to look over my shoulder if this was their correct in their opinion or get the story right as far as they are concerned. is not authorized biography that they could strike it and i was obliged but in fact, because of the work of journalism might publish require that i get these
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letters from them to say i understand you share this manuscript with me but you have control and to decide what is in its. in the end what they were uncomfortable with none of them about themselves but debbie was uncomfortable with something she had shared about her daughter that was too revealing and her daughter would be upset and michelle was upset about one of her boyfriends and i just took it out. there was nothing uncomfortable that was kept in the book. it was about more of a minor character they were trying to protect. so we did make changes when i heard back.
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use the devi right to a lot in a military post overseas you see that they're forbidden to have alcohol in she was a cocktail and she figures out to have one then you see her become dependent on having that cocktail regularly then you see her right that she wishes she could find another form of relief because this is becoming too much of a habit. i did not know how she would think about all the material being in the book but she said i might have an issue there and i think that my own opinion is as long as i can hold a job and not hurt other people it is my business and it is okay. associated the mind that was in the book or did not
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object. that i thought was very brave of her because she makes herself extremely vulnerable but she also said she knows those are issues that a lot of veterans deal with the association wanted to share her story fully. >> we have time for one more question and when that is done please go back past the camera man and up to the desk and she will sign your books. >> i am so interested in what the women are doing now can you tell us how they're doing or if they are still friends.
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>> they're very much still friends i actually think one motivation for working on this book project for them was to spend time together again. they have become so close that michelle left to the national guard in 2007 and to be retired after she came home from iraq and was a 59 there was supposed to be another to planet coming in she did not want to deploy in the '60s but it was a huge hole in her life. giving 20 years of her life and she described by a herd
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calendar to look at the drill weekend and say oh yeah out. i am not doing that. she missed their last day in uniform was about one week ago. very recent. she got a medical retirement but once did the retired three of them are not together much so it gave them a reason to get together and that was the ancillary benefit to them why they enjoyed doing this. but they're motivated to
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explain what the deployments were like that people didn't understand what they have lived through but they also felt they had struggles that were hard and desma comes back with an injury and ptsd and they want veterans who are dealing with those issues to understand they are not alone and others have similar struggles. those were the two motivations. they were with me to gather at one yvette and were they all chose to speak. that was really wonderful. michelle have know-how to talk about what she is doing without giving away key developments but she is in graduate school right now. and doing really well. you kind of see to the end of b


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